A startup in Kolkata, India created a podcast series with the aim of reaching out to their customers. This B2B show achieved more than the desired results. It not only generating qualified leads, but also some generated intangible benefits such as greater visibility to the entrepreneur in the professional circles and invitation by a University to help set up a research center. What has been your experience with a B2B podcast?
A few months ago, I worked with E-Cube Energy Trading Private Limited,(EETPL) a Kolkata (India) based energy analytics firm. Umesh Bhutoria, the founder of E-Cube, was looking to reach out to his target customers: CFOs and Heads of Operations in textile mills and aluminium smelters. The challenge was, that the locations of most of the factories were remote, and he and his team had limited resources for marketing and pre-sales. They were looking for a way to maximize their reach to potential customers.
“Amar, is there something a podcast can do for us?” Umesh asked me one afternoon. My answer was an enthusiastic Yes.
Creating a Business To Business Podcast
A podcast with a business to business focus is nothing new, but it is certainly a novelty in India. we did not have any previous examples to fall back upon, or any experts who had a track record of doing such shows. The bigger question was, what would be the ROI? There are several podcasts particularly in North America, targeted towards audience who are CFOs, CMOs, research scientists, or managers of nonprofits and institutes. But we needed something that was specific to India. Podcasting is relatively new to India, and less than 100 shows that have been produced in this country so far.
The good news was, that here was a customer who was willing to take a chance with us. It was a risk, of course, but it was a calculated risk. A B2B show was not going to generate hundreds of thousands of listenership, but it was important to reach the right sets of ears.
Form Plan To Action
Podcasts can have many formats: a solo show (monologue, like ), interview based (like Entrepreneur on Fire, Mixergy, , Panel discussions (like This Week in Tech), narrative (Startup Podcast), News Reporting, etc…
As the first step, we decided on selecting the format for this B2B podcast. Umesh and I decided that a conversational format was the best way to keep the listener interest high. But, we put a little twist to it. We decided to role play; I would be the ‘customer’ and Umesh would pitch E-Cube’s solutions to me. We decided on a 6 part series, and each episode would be about 12 to 15 minutes in length. In India, shorter format content works better, unlike in the United States where many podcasts are nearly an hour long. Each episode would focus on one particular aspect of energy analytics, and we framed the questions that were based on real life experience.
We launched this series in August 2016, and concluded it in mid-October. We promoted it almost exclusively on LinkedIn, and to some extent, on Twitter. As you can see below, we did not get a lot of listeners. But, they were the most relevant listeners: CFOs, heads of operations, or production professionals.
Results Speak For Themselves
Towards the end of the fourth episode, we began to see some interesting results. Umesh began to get calls from potential customers in textile industry- they wanted to know how E-Cube could help them reduce their energy costs. Customers calling directly was probably the greatest validation that the content was reaching the right audience. More importantly, these were ‘walk in’ leads, with a negligible cost of customer acquisition. Not only that, the timeline for sales process was greatly reduced.
Next, whenever Umesh would travel for conferences or professional events, people began to approach him and tell him “I have listened to your podcast. It is very useful.” Brand building- both for Umesh personally and for his venture, happened almost in parallel.
In a B2B environment, it is difficult to quantify the benefits in many cases. But for those looking for a ROI, it is important to consider both the qualitative and quantitative benefits.
The added advantage of creating this series was that the content has a long shelf life. Technologies may change but the underlying principles remain the same for a very long time. As a result, EETPL will keep reaping the benefits .over the next few years,
What we learnt from this experience
The biggest reason for the success of this podcast series was that we had identified the target audience, penned down their pain points, and designed a format that was easy to listen to and follow. Marketing it to the right audience was also the key to getting the right results. All in all, it was an experiment that went well because of good design and execution.
Have you tried creating a B2B podcast? Do you already have one? What has been your experience? I would love to hear your comments.
I created this infographic to highlight some of the benefits to businesses from podcasting. In India, creating content in regional languages is extremely important, given that nearly every state and region has a different language. As a next step, a show in multiple languages would be the logical thing to do. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.